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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Orange Bubble Bread


Sometimes, though not as often as I should, I plan meals around things on sale at the grocery store. The reason I don't has always been that I have such a large supply of food in my pantry and freezer that I make food based on what I have, not what I just bought.  I am always replenishing the food based on sales...I just don't use it immediately unless it's perishable.  
How does that relate to this bread?  Well, orange juice and refrigerator biscuits were on sale.  Separately, they would end up served as a drink and perhaps under some gravy, but together?  They became this mostly quick to throw together treat.

I made this up as I went along.  I know it's not original at all, but I didn't bother to find a recipe before I went to work in the kitchen.  I started by making a syrup with orange juice, orange rind and sugar.  After adding some butter to the finished syrup, I mixed it with the quartered biscuits and then poured the now coated pieces of biscuit into a tube pan.  It was gloppy and delicious.  All of my sons gave it two thumbs up and fought over the syrup that leaked out onto the serving plate.  


Orange Bubble Bread
1 4 pack of smaller refrigerator biscuits (of course you could use a homemade bread dough here)
2 cups orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
3 Tbsp butter
In a saucepan, combine the juice, sugar and rind.  Boil over medium heat until thickened....maybe 15-20 minutes, stirring periodically.  When syrup has reduced and thickened to more of a maple syrup consistency than that of juice, remove from heat and add the butter.  Stir until the butter melts.  In the meantime, quarter each biscuit and place in a large mixing bowl.  Pour the orange syrup over the biscuits and toss to combine.  Dump the biscuits into a greased tube pan and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-35 minutes (time depends on altitude and heat of your oven) until golden brown and puffy.  Remove from the oven and carefully turn out onto a serving plate.  You may want to turn it away from you in case the syrup splashes...it's very hot.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Your Recipe, My Kitchen: Empanadas

My husband spent some time in Argentina before we met.  He loved it there; the people, the land, but especially the food.  He still talks about the food.  After almost twenty-three years of marriage, I finally got around to making him some empanadas.   I found a wonderful recipe for them over on Dana's blog (Food for Thought)...only, I had no time for a crockpot meal and my husband wanted beef empanadas, so I improvised.
I used Dana's dough recipe and the dipping sauce she included.  Be sure to use the sauce.  My children were practically licking their plates to get the very last bits of the sauce.   If you have time (aka plan ahead), use Dana's filling, too.  You cannot go wrong with chicken and lime.
I made a hamburger based filling.  I found a recipe in one of my Mexican cookbooks that seemed adaptable  to fit the bill.  I was wrong, though.  My husband, while he loved the empanadas, said the flavors were not Argentine.  He wanted a beef, cheese, potato combination.  This was a beef, tomato, spice, raisin combination.  I suppose that gives me another excuse to try them again. It won't take me another twenty-three years to get around to it now that I know how good they are, though. 

Beef Empanadas ( using Dana's Lime Chicken Empanada's dough and sauce)
Filling: 
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup beer (or water or non-alcoholic beer)
pinch cinnamon (1/2 of 1/8 tsp)
pinch ground cloves (1/2 of 1/8th tsp)
1/8 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (or 3 tsp dried)
1/4 cup raisins
3 large green olives, chopped fine (optional, but adds a nice flavor and texture)
Dough
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (I used lard)
1 cup cold water
1 egg, beaten (to brush on top)
Sauce:
1 cup ranch salad dressing (I ran out of dressing at 3/4 cup, so I added mayo to get the full amount)
1/4 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
To make the filling, brown the ground beef with the onions in a large skillet.  Drain any grease.  Add the garlic and beer and boil down until the liquid has all but disappeared.  Add the cinnamon, cloves, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the tomatoes, agave, raisins and vinegar and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have reduced to a thick sauce and the raisins are nice and plump.  Stir in the cilantro and olives and heat through.  Remove from heat.
To make the dough, combine the flour, baking powder and salt with the lard in a large bowl.  Use a pastry blender or fork to mix to a crumbly state.  Stir in the water (you may need less or more, so add a little at a time) to form a dough.  Divide the dough into two balls and knead each a bit on a floured counter.  Roll one ball out to 1/4 inch thick...or thinner.  Cut into 4-5 inch circles (a metal bowl makes a good circle cutter).  Place 2 tsp filling on the middle of each circle.  Fold the dough in half over the filling, forming a semi-circle and pinch the edges together with a fork to seal.  If you have a dough press, they work really well.  Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet, brush the tops with the beaten egg and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Serve warm.
To make the sauce, combine the ranch dressing with the spices.  Let sit ten minutes for the flavor to develop a bit.
Now it's your turn.  Please feel free to link up any recipes that have been on your "to try" list.  Hopefully it hasn't taken you over twenty years to get around to it!!  Be sure to link back to this blog or post, please.  



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Stories: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Sometimes I start talking to my parents about family stories and the most amazing tales emerge.  For instance, this last week, I mentioned that I needed new material for a Saturday Story and Dad said to Mom, "tell her about the time you thought I had been shot down over North Vietnam."  Mom said, "You know that story, right, Kristen?"  I had never heard it.

First, let me give you a little background information.  The wives and families of the B-52 crews were allowed to go over and stay near the bases from which the B-52s were launching their attacks on Hanoi and other points in North Vietnam.  Mom and I went over twice to Thailand and once to Guam.  We had just returned from Guam. It was almost Christmas and Mom was feeling low.   She packed me up and we headed from Massachusetts over to her parent's home in Western New York.

A few days later, we were watching the evening news when an announcement came on that a B-52 out of Guam had been shot down over North Vietnam.  Later that night, the phone rang.  It was a friend of my mom's from the base in Massachusetts.  She said that no matter what Mom heard on the news, my dad had not been on the plane that had been shot down; the serial number released did not match Dad's.  The next day, on the news, footage was shown of the wrecked plane.  A body of a serviceman was draped over the wing and one lone survivor was blindfolded and being prodded by the Viet Cong with a bayonet.  Then the newscaster said my father's name.  It was all my mom could do to hold onto the hope that her friend had been right.

Christmas came and Mom just couldn't bring herself to get out of bed.  The constant worry had literally made her sick.  Mamie entertained me and told Mom not to worry about a thing.  Mom got out of bed around one o'clock in the afternoon and decided to go over and visit Granny, my dad's mom who lived about thirty minutes away.  We stayed the night; Mom and Granny taking comfort in each other's company.  At four in the morning, the phone rang.  It was Dad.  He was safe.  He never knew how the Viet Cong got his name or why they mistakenly released it to the Western press.

The worry continued, though.  There were many planes shot down during the Conflict.  All of the wives lived in constant fear that their husbands would not survive.  They had to keep up a good face in front of their children, all the while dealing with their own anxieties.  In every generation, I don't think the military spouse gets enough credit for the load she (or he) carries.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cafeteria Brownies

If it hadn't been for a good friend who had me playing racquetball three times a week, these brownies would have caused me to put on the dreaded Freshman Ten or more likely Twenty when I went to college.  I lived in the dorms on campus and had a two meal a day plan at the cafeteria.  I'd eat breakfast and dinner.  Lunch would be a quick brownie snack at the Student Union and dinner always included at least two one brownie for dessert.  I adored these things.  I lived off campus all of the other years of school, but I fed my brownie habit as often as I could.  Then I married, graduated, moved away and promptly forgot all about them.  It was definitely a fickle love affair on my side.  
This year for St. Patrick's day, I remembered those brownies.  Normally, the middle layer wouldn't be quite such a vibrant green, but I had a food color malfunction.  Imagine my surprise when I opened a clearly green colored pointy topped McCormick liquid food color bottle, generously squirted it into my frosting and had it turned BLUE.  Knowing that blue and yellow make green, I opted to add some yellow.  That, however made a very unappetizing pond scum color.  Next I grabbed a jar of leaf green Wilton color paste.  The results were very, very green.  Seeings it was St. Patrick's day, though, that was acceptable.

Cafeteria Brownies:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp honey
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
12 ounces chocolate frosting (make your own or use store bought)
Mint Frosting:
5 Tbsp butter, softened
3 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp corn syrup or agave nectar
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp mint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring
Melt butter and mix in cocoa.  Allow to cool.  Add honey, eggs, sugar, flour and baking powder.  Mix well.  pour batter into greased 9 X 13 pan.  Bake 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until done.  Cool 1 hour.  Prepare mint frosting by beating butter and corn syrup.  Add in powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add the food coloring to the milk and gradually add until the consistency is a little thinner than cake frosting.  Spread mint frosting over cooled brownies.  Place in freezer for a short time to stiffen.  Remove from freezer and carefully add layer of chocolate frosting.  Store leftovers in the fridge.

Friday Potluck

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fruit Filled Wreath

When I made the maple pecan breakfast ring, I had some leftover dough (I doubled the recipe).  Wanting to make something a little less sweet, I simply filled this one with stewed dried plums.  Did any of you catch the clever marketing ploy the plum/prune producers pulled a few years ago when they started calling prunes dried plums?  Instead of thinking about clogged-up geriatric patients, we can feel hip and clever by eating dried plums.  
I found the plum/prunes to be sweet enough on their own not to need any extra sugar.  The dough was already fairly sweet, too.  I didn't glaze the wreath, so I just buttered it when it came out of the oven.   That whitish looking stuff all over the top was the butter, it soaked in after half an hour or so.  I guess it ended up being a little like a stollen.  Whatever it was, it was certainly tasty.  
You certainly could change out the dried fruits.  Apricots, cherries or apples would all make lovely fillings.  You could also use a canned pie filling if you so choose, maybe half a can..(By the way have you noticed how expensive canned pie filling has gotten?  I saw it for over $6 a can last week!!)
Fruit Filled Wreath
Basic Sweet Dough (from Farm Journal's Country Cookbook 1959)
1 cups milk
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg, slightly beaten
4-5 cups flour
Filling: 
1 1/2 cups stewed dried plums (Soak dried fruit in very hot water for 20 minutes, drain) or 1/2 a can of canned pie filling

In a large microwave safe bowl, heat the milk, butter, sugar and salt until the butter is just about all melted.  Stir to melt the rest of the butter.  Cool slightly.  In a mixing bowl, combine the warm water and yeast until bubbly.  Add the egg to the milk mixture and then add to the yeast.  Either with a dough hook attachment on a heavy duty mixer or with brute strength of your arm and spoon, add the flour and knead 5-10 minutes (on a floured surface if doing by hand).  Cover in a bowl and let rise one hour until doubled.   Roll out the dough into a rectangle.  Spread fruit all over the rectangle.  Roll up jelly roll style. Form into a ring on a cookie sheet.  Cut into the ring 2/3 of the way through.  Cover and let rise another 30 minutes.  Bake 25 minutes or until done in a 375 degree oven.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Butterscotch Coconut Cookies

Years ago, we lived in a home that had an apartment in the basement.  It was nice for us.  We only had one child and could rent out the bottom for almost as much as our entire house payment.  We rented it to three different families over a three and a half year period.  By the end of that time, we had four sons and really wanted to use the entire house.  One of the gals who lived downstairs gave me a recipe for German Chocolate Cookies.  They were so good, I often made them and then ate most of batch all by myself.
With four strapping teenage-ish sons, I no longer have to fear that I will be the one to eat all the cookies.  This time I changed up the recipe a bit and added butterscotch chips instead of milk chocolate.  I also omitted the nuts.  This made for a really sweet cookie, but they were well received.  

Butterscotch Coconut Cookies 
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (1 of those packages of crackers thrown in the food processor is usually the correct amount)
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup butterscotch chips
Mix graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder. In another bowl, beat condensed milk and butter until smooth. Mix all together, then add coconut, chips and walnuts. Slightly grease cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes until light brown.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Your Recipe, My Kitchen: Deep Dish Pizza


I am returning to a favorite blog for this week's featured recipe.  I cannot help it.  Chickens in the Road contains my kind of homey, basic cooking.  Someday, I will attempt her cheese making instructions.  Maybe I will have a wheel of cheddar aging in my attic....ah, maybe not, but it sounds like fun.
I have been wanting to make a Chicago style deep dish pizza for many years.  The idea of a three inch thick slice of pizza appeals to me on a very basic level.  Why it's taken me so long to get around to this recipe is beyond all understanding.  It was actually very easy to throw together.
(I can't tell if that is an appetizing photo or not, but you can see how thick and full the pizza was)
This isn't exactly a recipe.  It's more of a technique.  You can use my crust recipe if you choose or the one on Suzanne's site or your own personal favorite.  The same goes for the sauce.  In fact, this time, I cheated and used a can of Hunt's Spaghetti sauce because I am using up canned goods again in preparation for another move....to Florida!  (Do you like how I just threw that in there and left you?  More details will follow as the move approaches this summer).  I think this pizza is forgiving enough for you to be able to use anything you have on hand.  It can be completely vegetarian or a mighty meat lover's style.  
Deep Dish Pizza (from a technique on Chickens in the Road)
olive oil
1 jar of pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce or at least 2 cups homemade
16 ounces shredded mozzarella, divided
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Fillings (I used 1 pound hamburger, 2 bell peppers, 1/2 onion, and about 20 slices pepperoni)
Make up the dough according to directions.  Squirt some olive oil into the bottom of a deep 9X13 pan...at least 1 Tbsp.  Place the dough into the pan and up the sides after the first rise.  Bake 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Put 8 ounces (2 cups) of cheese on top of the crust.  Then pour on your fillings.  Place the remaining 8 ounces on top of the filling.  Pour on the sauce and then top with the Parmesan cheese.  Return the pizza to the oven for another 20 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving, the filling will be really hot.

Go read Suzanne's post, she also shows you how to make a stuffed pizza!

Now it's your turn!  Link up any recipe that you have made that came from another blog, a friend, a cookbook....anything you have had on your "must try" list.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Stories: A Romance


Long ago, just after the turn of the last century, teachers in small, rural towns were still boarded at the homes of families whose children attended school.   If one family had the room and was well enough off, they would have the teacher live with them throughout the entire school year.  If times were tougher, the teacher may have had to move every few weeks, so as to share the burden of housing him or her.    The teachers were often young.  Girls and boys finished high school and then took a teacher's course for another year or two to get a teaching certificate.  They would then apply to school boards for a position.

Such was the case of my great grandmother, Nonny.  If you read last week's Saturday Story, you will recall that she spent the last half of her growing up years with her aunt and uncle.  They didn't have any children until Nonny was fifteen when they had one girl whom we all called Dellie (for Adele).  Nonny was given a good education.  She wrote poetry and loved to read.  It stood to reason that when she became old enough, she became a teacher.  

Pa, who would become her husband, was working as a farmhand.  Many young people left home without much education because of hard economic circumstances.  His father was a horse trader, but he was also an alcoholic, so there was never money in that home.  By the 1900 census, when he was an older teen, he was already working at other farms, but living at home.  When he reached his majority, he lived on the farm where he worked.

It just so happened that Pa worked on the very farm where Nonny was to board as a teacher one year.  One day, his boss told him that the new school teacher was due on the train and asked Pa to go with a wagon into town to pick her up.  He did as he was told and was rewarded with Cupid's arrow.  It was love at first sight.  The shy school teacher felt the same way.  

They were married in 1906.  He went on to run a successful business.  She bore six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.  Together, they instilled love and laughter in their posterity.  All of the children and grandchildren learned to love books from Nonny.  All of the children learned to love animals from Pa.   She died in the 1960s, he lived another ten years or so, living well into his 90s.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chimichangas with Green Chile

This dinner for one would have probably cost a minimum of $13.99 here in my little Arizona town.  Multiply that times the 7 people in my family and I could have spent over $100 with tip and tax in a restaurant.  Instead, using leftover meat and rice from the freezer,  home canned salsa and homemade refried beans, the entire, huge meal cost a total of just $13.99.  Not bad, eh?

Have you made chimis before?  If not, here is a basic run down.  Take shredded beef, chicken or pork and mix it with a little salsa....just to moisten it, not to overpower it.  Place a few tablespoons of the meat on a flour tortilla, fold the ends in and roll.  You will want to use a larger tortilla for these.  The little ones make tiny chimichangas. (If your tortillas crack as you fold them, heat them in a microwave for a few seconds between moist paper towels to soften)  Heat some oil in a deep skillet and fry them on all sides until brown and crisp.  Remove to a wire rack over a cookie sheet and keep in the oven on warm while you cook up the rest.  Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce with sour cream or guacamole and maybe a side of Fiesta Rice.  Top with green chile...which isn't spicy, just delicious.

Green Chile (adapted from Best Places Seattle Cookbook)
(makes enough for at least two meals, so plan to freeze the extra or serve an army)
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1 inch cubes (optional)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, chopped
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and chopped
2 poblano chiles, cored, seeded and chIopped (these are really mild peppers!)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven, brown the meat in the 1/4 cup olive oil (you may have to do this in batches).  Remove the meat and set aside to keep warm.  In the same skillet, saute the onions, garlic, tomatillos and chiles with the cumin in the remaining oil.  When the vegetables are soft (10 minutes later), add the meat back into the pan along with the remaining ingredients.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the fond and simmer over medium low heat for 20 minutes, uncovered, until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.  The meat is totally optional here.  You can make the green chile without any at all and it will still be delicious.  Cut the olive oil down to 1/4 cup for just the veggie version.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Maple Pecan Breakfast Ring

Once you start on a yeast adventure, you never know what heights you may reach.  This is definitely one of the prettier pieces I have made.  It was mighty tasty, too.  It was inspired by a photo I saw in a Better Homes and Gardens publication, but I used a dough recipe from a vintage cookbook.  I ended up frosting it with a maple flavored glaze, too.  
The fun pan I baked it in was a tin creamer, circa 1880.  
In order to keep the circle in the center of the pan, I inverted a ramekin in the middle when I put the shaped dough in to rise before baking.  I left the ramekin in while this baked and then removed it immediately when the breakfast ring was done.
Basic Sweet Dough (this one is a keeper....so versatile!)(from Farm Journal's Country Cookbook 1959)
1 cups milk
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg, slightly beaten
4-5 cups flour
Maple Pecan Breakfast Ring 
Basic Sweet Dough
Filling
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp maple flavoring
Glaze
2 Tbsp softened butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp maple flavor
Enough water or milk to achieve desired consisitency
In a large microwave safe bowl, heat the milk, butter, sugar and salt until the butter is just about all melted.  Stir to melt the rest of the butter.  Cool slightly.  In a mixing bowl, combine the warm water and yeast until bubbly.  Add the egg to the milk mixture and then add to the yeast.  Either with a dough hook attachment on a heavy duty mixer or with brute strength of your arm and spoon, add the flour and knead 5-10 minutes (on a floured surface if doing by hand).  Cover in a bowl and let rise one hour until doubled.  
For Maple Pecan Breakfast Ring: 
Punch down and roll out to a large rectangle (20 inches long).  Spread softened butter all over to edges.  Combine remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle evenly all over.  Roll up, jelly roll style.  Cut roll in half lengthwise and turn the cut sides up, next to each other.  Prepare large round pan (if nothing else, a springform would work) and grease the outside a ramekin, too.  Place the ramekin in the center of the round pan.  Twist the two halves of the cut dough and gently pick it up and place it in the prepared pan to form a ring.  Pinch the ends together.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.  Bake in a 375 preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown (remember ovens vary).  Remove from oven and let cool in pan.  Make glaze by stirring softened butter into powdered sugar (I use the back of a spoon to really mix it).  Combine the flavorings and a little water (to keep color uniform and prevent brown streaks in the glaze) and add to the sugar/butter mixture.  Stir until smooth.  Add more water if necessary until you get the consistency you like.  Pour glaze over the top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.




Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Stories: Losing an Irish Heritage

My great grandmother, Nonny, had an interesting upbringing.  Her mother was Irish.  Her parents came from the area somewhere around Galway.  My great great great grandfather came to the United States during the 1850s, during the height of the potato famine.  They were practicing Roman Catholic.

Nonny's mother, Mary, had a bad heart.  Maybe she had Rheumatic fever as a child.  We don't know.  However, we do know that the strain of giving birth to Nonny was too much for her.  She never had any more children and was an invalid for the next thirteen years until her death.   Here is a picture of that little family in front of their home.  See how frail Mary (on the left) looks.
When Mary died, her husband Fred left Nonny with his brother, George.  She spent the rest of her teenage years with that family.   We don't know exactly what Fred did for the next ten years.  There are rumors that he was a womanizer.  He eventually married again.  This time to another Irish girl, but one from Northern Ireland.  

In my grandfather's family, there weren't many prejudices, but for some reason, Bumpa had a problem with Catholics.  I never quite understood the problem.  From what I gather about his own family, Nonny, his mother was raised Catholic until she was thirteen.  Then, when she moved into Uncle George's house, she moved into an Episcopalian family.  She married a man of that faith and all of her children were raised that way.  The Catholic influence just disappeared.  Although it was common knowledge that Nonny's mom's family was Irish, no stories or heritage was passed on.  I wonder if her father's British side (Fred's parents and older brother were all born in England) was ashamed of the marriage.

Interestingly enough, both sides of my family did that to the Irish.  My dad's German family erased the Irish marriage to the point of annulment.  Except for my dad's last name, which is very Irish, there is no other trace of my great great grandfather's existence in that line.  What a bum rap the Irish got!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ramen Skillet

 Times are tough all over.  It's a fact.  Food and gas prices are rising like crazy - it cost me $100 to fill up my Suburban this week.  That means that we home chefs need to get a little creative with ingredients.  Now, I am not a regular ramen fan.  I just cannot get pass the flavor envelopes full of sodium and other weird flavors.  This recipe, however only uses the noodles (toss the packet in the garbage).  With as little or as much meat as you want (use chicken, pork, or beef), fresh or frozen vegetables of your choosing and a couple of packets of cheap noodles, you can make a pretty frugal meal.  The nice thing?  It was absolutely delicious and passed all of the kids' taste test.
 This recipe came from the cookbook Best Skillet Recipes by Cook's Illustrated.  It originally called for cabbage, but that wasn't what I had.  I grabbed a package of frozen broccoli and use that instead.  It also called for using a 14 inch nonstick skillet.  My biggest is only 12 inches, so I cooked the meat mixture in a separate pan than the noodles, then combined them all at the end.  This served my family once for dinner, with a few servings left over....maybe 10-12 servings.
Ramen Skillet (Originally called Ramen with Pork, Scallions, and Cabbage from Best Skillet Recipes)
1 pound boneless meat (pork, chicken or beef)(or maybe tofu for the non meat eaters?)
8 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2-3 green onions, chopped (or use regular onion, diced,  if that's what you have)
6 medium garlic cloves, minced fine
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 14 ounce cans chicken broth (or beef or vegetable)
4 3 ounce packages ramen noodles (discard seasoning)
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 16 ounce package chopped broccoli (or the equivalent amount of a preferred vegetable....maybe not beets)
Cube the meat into bite sized pieces, pat them dry and then toss them with 2 tsp of the soy sauce.  Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a skillet over high heat until just smoking.  Add the meat, break up any clumps, and cook without stirring until it begins to brown.  Flip over the cubes and let it cook on the other side, too.  Stir, make sure it's cooked all the way through and then transfer it to a bowl, cover it to keep it warm and set aside.  Cook the onion in skillet until soft, add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and heat through, turn off the heat to keep from burning.  Meanwhile,in a separate pan, heat the broth and add the ramen, broken into small chunks.  Simmer until ramen is just tender, about 2 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 Tbsp soy sauce and the oyster sauce, stirring to mix well.  Add the vegetables (if you are using something that takes a long time to cook, like carrots, you would want to cook them with the onion/ginger mixture to soften them up) and cook until done and sauce thickens a bit.  Add in the meat and the onion mixture, heat through and serve.




Sunday, March 6, 2011

Your Recipe, My Kitchen: Key Lime Coconut Cake

Last year, key lime treats were all over the food blog world.  It seemed like everywhere I looked, someone was making something wonderful with those tiny little fruits.  Everyone, that is, but me.  I drooled, I bookmarked, but I didn't get around to making anything.  This week, though, I happened to get hold of a bag of little key limes.  It seemed that the stars finally had aligned for me to get one of those bookmarked recipes made.
I chose a simple cake,  Angel Food Coconut Lime Cake from the blog, Hannah and Claire Eat.  They haven't updated their blog since August, 2010, so it may be a dead blog now.  Have you noticed that some blogs just fade away?  It is an argument for printing out recipes,  I guess.  Anyway, back to the cake.  From the photos, you can see that I didn't make an angel food cake.  I substituted a yellow cake mix.  I threw lime zest and coconut into the batter.  For the frosting/filling, I added an envelope of Dream Whip and a little milk instead of folding in Cool Whip.  Like always, it was a matter of what I had on hand.

Key Lime Coconut Cake (adapted from Hannah and Claire Eat)
1 yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp key lime zest
1/3 + 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup key lime juice
1 envelope Dream Whip
1/3 cup milk
Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil and water until smooth.  Stir in the lime zest and 1/3 cup coconut.  Bake at 350 degrees in two 9 inch greased pans according to mix directions (Mine took about 25 minutes).  Let the cakes cool on a wire rack.  For the filling, beat the lime juice and sweetened condensed milk.  Add the Dream Whip and milk and mix on high for 5 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups coconut.  Place the bottom cake layer on a plate.  Spread half the filling on top, to edges.  Place the second layer of cake on top of the filling.  Spread the second half of the frosting on top.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  

Now it's your turn.  Join up with any recipe that you have had on your "to try" list, be it from another blog, a cookbook or one that a friend gave you.  The more the merrier!  Please link back to this post and link directly to a post, not to your home page.  



Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Stories: Staying in Shape in the 1930s

My grandfather, Bumpa and his identical twin, Alton were not very large men, but they were incredibly strong.   Their father was the ice man for the area, so they both got to help haul 50 pound blocks of ice as soon as they were physically able.  If you will remember, in the days before refrigerators, people relied on ice or cold cellars to keep their food fresh.  The ice box was a wooden piece of furniture with a section lined with galvanized steel for storing the ice.  There were other doors that opened into the food sections.  These ice boxes ranged from really fancy things on legs with brass handles to more primitive pieces homemade by farmers.  All of them needed the ice man, and the ice man needed his sons as helpers.

Bumpa and Alton also had a special fascination with the Circus.  Perhaps most boys did in that era.  Didn't kids often run away and join the circus?  When the circus came to town, wasn't it like a holiday?  So Bumpa and Alton practiced circus moves.  They learned to walk on their hands.  My mom remembers times when the men were in their 40s that they would start whispering together and then would go outside into the yard and walk around on their hands.  Were they betting each other that one could out do the other?  Were they reminiscing about old times when they were kids?

Physical Education was part of school curriculums even back in the 1920s and 30s.  Bumpa and Alton were actually excused from the class because they could shimmy up a rope, do push-ups and sit-ups faster and longer than anyone else in the class.  They were proud of their physical prowess.

Not only were they strong and agile, but the twins were good dancers, too.  Nonny, their mom signed them up for dancing lessons as boys.  They learned ballroom and tap dancing.  During the Great Depression, the twins were desired as partners for young debutantes at hotels and country clubs.  The wealthy fathers would contact the young men to make sure they would attend the dances.  These rich men would hire big bands to play and would rent out the ballrooms for their daughters.  Nothing but the best for their little girls and that included making sure that handsome and fun Bumpa and Alton would be in attendance.  I can remember Bumpa telling me about those dances.  He didn't go around in the wealthy circles often, so it was a big deal to be able to attend those shindigs.  They were fond memories for him.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Swedish Meatballs


Sometimes, amidst all the crazy new recipes I try, it's nice to throw in some comfort food.  In my house, those comfort recipes include chicken enchiladas, spaghetti, chicken fingers and beef stroganoff.  Swedish meatballs are, in a way, like a combination of spaghetti and stroganoff.   Can't see it?  Well, in my convoluted way of thinking, on one hand you have pasta, red sauce and meatballs for the spaghetti and on the other you have a creamy sauce, beef and noodles for the stroganoff.  Take the meatball idea from one and throw it in with a type of creamy sauce and noodles from the other and what have you got?  Yup.  Swedish meatballs.
Swedish Meatballs (adapted from Taste of Home)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tsp salt
1  tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp onion powder
2 pounds ground beef
Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2  14 ounce cans beef broth
1 pint heavy cream (I used 1 can evaporated milk and a half-pint of cream)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients and, if it doesn't gross you out, mix together with your hands (otherwise, use a big spoon).  Form into meatballs and bake on a jelly roll pan.  Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until done.  (Note: I used about 2/3 of this mixture to feed 8 and froze the rest of the meatballs for another day - I am thinking a barley meatball soup).  For sauce, melt butter in a Dutch oven. Stir in flour to form a smooth paste.  Gradually stir in broth; bring to a boil stirring constantly to keep smooth. Reduce heat; stir in cream/evaporated milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Cook and stir another 10 minutes.  Add meatballs to sauce, heat through and serve over egg noodles.  Garnish with dill or parsley as desired.

Friday Potluck
Fat Camp Friday   

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Potato Rolls

These are the rolls I remember most from my childhood.  Mom, like all good cooks had trends to her cooking.  She had favorite recipes for a while and then moved on to others.   I remember beef enchiladas all through first and second grade.  I remember whole wheat bread in sixth and seventh grades.  By the time I was in high school, we were eating biscuits, fried chicken and lettuce salads (always served in a warped antique wooden bowl).  These rolls aren't on her rotation any more, either, but luckily, I can make them myself now.  I don't know why but all you have to do is say "potato bread" or roll or doughnut or whatever and I am all over it.

These are made simply by adding instant potato flakes to a rich egg dough.  The recipe calls for simpl making round rolls, but if you are feeling fancy, like I was, you can turn them into cloverleaf rolls by breaking those bigger rolls into three little balls and throwing the dough into a muffin tin.

Potato Rolls (from my mom)
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup warm water
1 envelope yeast (or 2 1/2 Tbsp)
2 beaten eggs
1 cup instant potato flakes
4 1/2-5 cups flour
Heat milk, sugar, salt, butter and water in a microwavable bowl until butter melts.  Let cool slightly.  Add eggs and stir.  Add the yeast and let a sponge form.  Add the potatoes and then the flour.  Knead about 8 minutes. Put in a greased bowl, cover and let double (about 1 hour).  Punch down dough and divide into two halves.  Make 12 balls out of each half and place in greased 9 inch pie pans.  Cover and let rise 1/2 hour.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until a deep golden brown.  Brush with butter as soon as you remove them from the oven.


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